Jewish Party Vows to Quit Israeli Government over Army Bill

Police suppress ultra-Orthodox protest against compulsory military service. (Photo: ActiveStill.org)

United Torah Judaism (UTJ), a right-wing Jewish religious party, has vowed to withdraw from Israel’s governing coalition if the Knesset approves a draft law on compulsory military service, reports Anadolu Agency.

The Israeli Broadcasting Corp. reported Friday:

“The crisis over the military service draft law has returned again to haunt the governing coalition and threaten its stability.”

It went on to point out that the Council of Torah Sages (CTS), a rabbinical policy-making body, had instructed the UTJ’s six MPs to withdraw from Israel’s governing coalition if the Knesset approved an amended version of the draft law.

The newspaper noted that the country’s current military service law was set to expire in September “so the Knesset must pass an alternative law before then”.

The paper asserted:

“If a new law is not passed to ensure the exemption of Ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students [from military service], tens of thousands of them will likely receive Israeli Defense Forces draft orders.”

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the CTS has ordered its MPs “to work on amending the proposed legislation and ensure that Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman maintains the authority to exempt yeshiva students from the IDF draft”.

However, Israel’s Channel 10 recently quoted Lieberman as saying that he would not retreat from the draft’s current wording.

Army service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens (three years for men and two years for women), with the exception of members of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews account for roughly 10 percent of Israel’s total population. They tend to live in closed communities and adhere to strict interpretations of Jewish religious law.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

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